Here's The Scary Reason You Should Stop Soaking Your Nails Before Manicures

by Stephanie Montes

If you've gotten even one nail service in your life, you know the drill. All technicians start by soaking nails before manicures and pedicures, then they proceed with the trimming, filing, polishing, etc. But as it turns out, that first step we've all been conditioned to expect (the warm, relaxing water bath) is actually a major faux pas. To get the low down on soak sessions, I sat down with Carolann Sanchez Shapiro, founder and CEO of Can Can Parleur, an organic, waterless salon in West Hollywood.

Shapiro tells me there are so many risks involved with soaking your hands and feet at a salon, but very little benefits. As an avid beauty junkie, I enjoy going to a salon and dipping my feet into a hot tub of water. The feeling of a foot soak, followed by some scrubbing and massaging, is really unbeatable. However, I've always been somewhat aware of possible risks. I once read about a woman contracting an infection, because it's virtually impossible to clean in between each jet. But until now, I never thought twice about sticking my feet or hands in a pretty water-filled bowl or jet-less tub.

There's no need to soak in water — there are no added benefits of it.

But why skip the soak all together? "There's no chance of a client getting bacteria or a fungal infection," Shapiro says. "[Skipping the soak means] cross contamination is completely eliminated."

When I sat down for my own mani and pedi at Shapiro's salon, technicians sprayed my hands and feet with an antimicrobial and antifungal spray, then wrapped them up in a hot, essential oil-infused towel. I got that same relaxing feel of a soak, without the thought of stewing in the previous client's bacteria.

Of course, some salons are cleaner than others, so if you're not worried about contracting bacteria at your go-to spot, you should still know that fungal infections aren't only contracted in a salon, but just by soaking in general. "Water causes your pores to open, and when you apply polish on a nail with open pores, the polish will lift and it won't last as long," Shapiro says. Aside from risking a chipped mani, she explains it's also "another way you can get a fungal infection. Once the polish starts to lift and you're in the shower, that water starts to settle underneath the polish." Before you know it, the moisture under your polish will become a breeding ground for fungus. Gross!

Salons are wasting 15 gallons of water per manicure and pedicure, including the washing of tubs.

If that's not enough to deter you, there's also the impact salon soaks have on the environment. Shapiro passionately shares how she has made a commitment to conserve water in her home and business. "Water is an amazing commodity. Here we are, where salons are wasting 15 gallons of water per manicure and pedicure, including the washing of tubs," she says. "Especially in California, where we're back in a drought, I'm really against wasting water." She also adds that there is essentially no water regulation when it comes to businesses, so salons are free to waste as much as they see fit.

To recap, skipping the soak at your next salon visit will not only be great for the planet, but it prevents cross contamination from the client before you. It also reduces the risk of contracting a fungal infection during and post-service and helps your polish last longer.

I have to say, after receiving the waterless services myself, I didn't really miss the soak. It's been over a week now, and my mani and pedi (both painted with clean polishes) are still going strong. Though it doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment now, just know that polish doesn't usually last more than a couple of days on my nails. And now that I think about it, I've always soaked my nails before all those other short-term paint jobs. *Insert pondering emoji here.*